Ayyappan Vilakku is a Hindu Puja performed during the Malayalam months of Vrischikam and Dhanu. The entire month of Vrischikam which usually starts mid-November and the first 11 days of Dhanu make up the Mandalam season.
The Mandalam season is that time of the year when devotees go on a pilgrimage to the Sabarimala Ayyappan Temple. It lasts 41 days. The Sabarimala Temple receives as many as 10 million visitors a year. It is one of most important pilgrimage centers in the whole world.
Sabarimala Ayyappan Temple is situated on a hilltop at the Periyar Tiger Reserve in the Western Ghats. It is in the Pathamthitta district of Kerala. It is believed that Ayyappan, the Hindu God, meditated here after killing the demoness Mahishi who wreaked havoc all over the world.
During the Mandalam season Ayyappan pujas are organized all over Kerala and in other parts of the country where Malayalis live.
For the Puja, a prototype of the Sabarimala temple is made with bamboo, banana stumps and coconut fronds. Prayers are offered.